Q-West Boat Builders New Zealand

Maritime career structure agreed in time for new police launches

By Bex Shannon, Association Communications Assistant

Maritime Unit members have voted to accept a new career structure that recognises the increased responsibility associated with their role.

On the eve of the delivery of a replacement vessel for the ageing Deodar II, Maritime Unit members will now have an incentive to acquire the advanced Police Coastal Master qualifications required to pilot the new $2.8 million vessel offshore.

Q-West Boat Builders Ltd in Wanganui is building the Deodar III.  Due to be commissioned on the 30 November this year, it is a foil supported, aluminium twin-hull vessel, 18.4 metres long with a continuous service speed of 25 knots.

High performance
When you see this boat it looks like it means business. Its aesthetic look is military and patrol-like and its performance will be "very, very good too," said Q-West General Manager, Colin Mitchell.

"The boat's unique features are that it's built out of high-strength aluminium, and we're using HamiltonJet units for the propulsion system, which are made in New Zealand and have a unique electronic control system called Blue Arrow.  This provides the boat with much better maneuverability than a conventional vessel." Mr. Mitchell said.

The replacement vessel will provide increased capability to carry out all tasks currently performed by the Deodar II and will also be used in joint border-protection operations with Customs and other Government agencies in a whole of Government approach to boarder security.

One of four vessels
The boat is one of four proposed vessels Q-West has been tendered to build.  Subject to funding and vessel performance, it will be the prototype for the replacement of Wellington's Lady Elizabeth III and the New Zealand Customs' launch, and eventually the model for the first combined New Zealand Police/Customs vessel.

The driver behind this particular boat and its design was an attempt to get a better result for the whole of Government approach to boarder protection.  We have a very close and continually improving relationship with organisations such as Customs, Fisheries, and Immigration.

Ultimately, the aim is to have both Police and Customs boats as identical boats,' said Senior Sergeant Martin Paget, of the Police Maritime Unit in Auckland.

Mr Paget is obviously looking forward to taking delivery of the vessel, having beaten a regular path to Wanganui over the past year in overseeing the vessel's construction.  "I'm really proud of the fact that this is designed and built by New Zealanders with New Zealand electronic and propulsion systems 0- it's a bit of a buzz."

Callouts
Every year the Deodar II responds to nearly 3,500 incidents, varying from stolen boat call-outs to search and rescue missions.  Mr Paget said the new boat, including its design and technology, would address the "short-comings" of the Deodar II, which has been in service for 15 years and is simply "worn-out".

The new boat will ensure that we can respond to and deal with emergencies quickly and efficiently, and will give us the capability to give better support to other operations like Customs.  We can get people onto and off other boats safely, and carry more people at one time.  Then there's a whole range of thermal and ocean floor-mapping technology, among other things, that we use day to day," he said.

Members of the Maritime Unit are chomping at the bit to be the first at the helm of the new vessel.  However, they will first have to knuckle down and complete the advanced Police Coastal Master qualifications, necessary to operate the boat and participate in Customs-related activities.

The boat will finally hit the water in early November and will then pay a short visit to Wellington, Gisborne and Tauranga, giving the public and local police the opportunity for inspection.  An official commissioning ceremony will be held in Auckland on December, celebrating the departure of the Deodar II, and the arrival of the state-of-the-art vessel.